Produced by Women Deliver November 29, 2018

Over 150 Organizations from Across the Globe Join Call for an End to Diabetes in Pregnancy

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Diabetes in pregnancy is an under-recognized, under-prioritized health issue with significant implications for women, newborns, and children throughout their lives. One of the most common conditions seen in pregnancy, diabetes affects about 1 in 7 births, and significantly increases risks of hemorrhage, hypertension, stillbirth, and ongoing threats to the health of newborns and children. While treatable and preventable, diabetes in pregnancy is often undiagnosed, and too many women do not receive adequate care. To save lives, improve maternal health, and curb intergenerational transmission of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) this must change.

To stress the need for increased attention and action—and move towards an aligned, integrated agenda for women’s health—150 organizations from civil society, academia, medical institutions, and the private sector joined Women Deliver, the World Diabetes Foundation, and the NCD Alliance in a Call to Action on Diabetes in Pregnancy. Launched in conjunction with the third United Nations High-level Meeting on Noncommunicable Diseases this September, the Call to Action outlines the imperative for high-level political commitment to address diabetes in pregnancy, and outlines concrete steps that governments can take to accelerate progress and improve health and wellbeing.

The signatories to the Call to Action are a diverse group of stakeholders working across maternal and child health, nutrition, and NCDs. It includes organizations from nearly every continent working in more than 35 countries, plus dozens operating at the global level. The number and scope of the signatories demonstrates the real and growing challenge of diabetes in pregnancy in all regions of the world, at all income levels. It is also a testament to the interlinkages between maternal and child health, NCDs, and generational wellbeing, and a strong call to break down traditional health care silos and align for a holistic, integrated approach to girls’ and women’s health.

The Call to Action outlines the following recommendations for governments to address diabetes in pregnancy:

1. Start from the top

Commit to addressing diabetes in pregnancy in a national-level NCD action plan, and encourage sub-national and local leaders to issue similar political commitments.

2. Prioritize and scale up

Integrate diabetes in pregnancy into countrywide NCD assessments and use the data to identify priority areas for national and sub-national action.

3. Embed and expand

Leverage existing health service delivery platforms, such as routine maternal health services and child immunization programs, to screen for and treat diabetes in pregnancy.

4. Collaborate

Promote a policy environment that encourages work across sectors to advance integrated service delivery that includes maternal health and NCD prevention and treatment.

5. Finance

Dedicate domestic health funding to diagnose, prevent and treat diabetes in pregnancy, and encourage existing global financing mechanisms to incorporate diabetes in pregnancy into their work and outcomes.

6. Act for accountability

Integrate diabetes in pregnancy into national and local accountability mechanisms for overall health, and in particular, NCDs and maternal and child health.

Next, we are delivering the Call to Action to leaders of high-burden countries, donor governments, and key multilateral bodies. In this outreach we will demonstrate the strong, cross-sector, and global commitment to diabetes in pregnancy, and outline the tangible steps each party can take to curb the toll of the disease and improve the health and livelihoods of women and children.

But efforts to end diabetes in pregnancy cannot stop here. Strong advocacy is still needed to prioritize this issue and push for an integrated approach to maternal and child health and NCDs. Together, advocates and stakeholders must continue to emphasize diabetes in pregnancy as a significant health concern. We must make sure NCDs and maternal and child health are discussed in tandem, in support of achieving Sustainable Development Goal targets of reducing the maternal mortality ratio and the rate of premature deaths from NCDs worldwide. We must hold governments accountable for action on NCDs and diabetes in pregnancy—including the steps called for in the Call to Action. We must continue to work across sectors and break down silos to promote integration and progress in support of girls’ and women’s health.

Women Deliver remains a steadfast partner in this effort and is committed to advocating for the prevention and treatment of NCDs, to promote the health, rights, and wellbeing of girls and women, and the communities they live in. We encourage all stakeholders to use this Call to Action to continue to advocate for attention, action, and investment in diabetes in pregnancy.

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